Saturday, 18 April 2015
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”1 Corinthians 15:55
Paul, in a sense of jubilation over what he is considering, now adapts the words of Hosea 13:14 to his comments on the work of the Lord. Cited from the Hebrew, that passage reads –
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
O Death, I will be your plagues!
O Grave, I will be your destruction!
Pity is hidden from My eyes.” Hosea 13:14
The work of the Lord is the destroyer of Death and Hades (the grave) and so in his exuberance at the thought of Christ fulfilling that passage, he adapts the words for his audience to consider with him. We have all experienced the effects of Death, and we all know the seeming finality of it. What Death claims is beyond our power to restore and so all we are left with is hopelessness at the eternal separation he has brought to us. Paul likens that to a “sting.” The word in Greek is kentron and means a sting or goad. In this it specifically indicates one which ends in death.
The word is used in Revelation 9:10 in the sense of a tormentor from scorpions –
“They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months.”
This “sting” is removed through the work of Jesus and so Paul poetically asks Death, “Where is your sting.” In Christ it is no longer the great destroyer it once was. His sting is gone and Death has been rendered impotent. And as the sting of Death once filled the abyss of Hades, it appeared that its consuming pit was the final victor. But Christ Himself unlocked the gates of Hades and paved the way for the souls of men to be revived to eternal life.
Because of this Paul asks, “O Hades, where is your victory?” Hell stood open, welcoming all who came its way. It reveled in its ability to hold more and more souls as the ages passed. It felt smug, as if its power was unstoppable, but Christ prevailed over it and purchased release for the captive souls. This is why Revelation 20 says that someday these two foes will be forever banished from their once exalted position. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire, never to consume another. The victory belongs to the Lord!
“Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Revelation 20:14
Life application: Nothing is impossible for the Lord. What we feel is the most hopeless of all situations is completely under His control. Stand fast in your faith in Him and in His ability to handle every detail of every promise His word provides.
Heavenly Father, by Your great hand you have vanquished Death. You have sent Your Son to defeat this great enemy of man. Now there is no power in his sting and there are no gates on hell which can hold the souls of those who die in Christ Jesus. We can mock this once great enemy and we can scorn the place where he resides. Death is ended; the Grave is opened; the dead shall rise. Hallelujah to our great God! Amen.